Foreigner’s Photos of Korea in Early 1960s Amaze Netizens

Korea in the 60s 06

A series of photos, uploaded to Flickr by the son of a former US worker in South Korea, have gone viral on the South Korean internet. Netizens are amazed by the apparent changes the pictures document, with some likening the landscape to the Jurassic period and North Korea.

From Ilbe:

Korea in the 60s 01

Korea in the 60s 02

Korea in the 60s 03

Korea in the 60s 04

Korea in the 60s 05

Korea in the 60s 06

Korea in the 60s 07

Korea in the 60s 08

Beautiful pictures of rural area

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Korea in the 60s 10

Preparation underway for a state visit by American president Eisenhower in 1960. After the Korean War the popularity of Ike (Eisenhower’s nickname) popularity was such that (particularly in the pro-American atmosphere after the April Revolution). Eisenhower cancelled his trip to Japan on account of the anti-Security Treaty movement and anti-American protests and decided to visit South Korea instead, receiving an overwhelming welcome. Well over a million people gathered to greet him in Seoul with many orphans produced due to poor crowd control… ㅡㅡ

Korea in the 60s 11


Korea in the 60s 12

City slum

Korea in the 60s 13

Korea in the 60s 14


Korea in the 60s 15

A washing spot in Yongsan

Korea in the 60s 16

Anyang Hotel

Korea in the 60s 17

Korea in the 60s 18

Jeju Island

Korea in the 60s 19

A farmer using a water mill with the children playing in his field

Korea in the 60s 20

Korea in the 60s 21

Misbehaving Lolini

Korea in the 60s 22

Korea in the 60s 23

Korea in the 60s 24

Changgyeong Palace Picnic

Korea in the 60s 25

Korea in the 60s 26

In front of Chosun Hotel, Seoul

Korea in the 60s 27

Korea in the 60s 28

Comments from ILBE:


Fuck I love this


Why does it look so foreign ke ke


Southeast Asia today ke ke ke ke


Fuck I cannot believe Russia and America already had satellites orbiting around the earth. Equally amazing is that the Korea in those pictures launched a satellite as well just yesterday.


Wow the rural areas kill me, I want to live there.


I love you President Park ㅜㅜ


The first picture looks like something from the Jurassic period, I was expecting dinosaurs to pop out ke ke ke ke


I vaguely remember the 70s when there were shit loads of horse carriages in front of Seoul Central Station. Hardly believable huh? I fucking feel shit out of place when I go there now… ke ke


Looking a lot like North Korea, a bit shitty maybe..


Wow fuck. We used to live in that shit hole;;; President Park [Chung-hee] is our national father ㅠㅠㅠ


Jwazoms will go on about how pristine nature was back then and how well preserved heritage was back then. Fucking hell ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke


Upload some comparative photos with North Korea now. North Korea 2000s VS 60-70s South Korea


The airport photo made me think of the African wilderness


That li’l yankee lolini must have been going round poppin’ cherries all the same back then


Such a tearjerker… A miracle indeed…


These photos ought to be widely circulated so as to wake people up. But who took these??

Did you take these photos? Can you identify anyone in these photos?

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  • dk2020

    Great pictures .. is there any countryside left in Korea? The farmers are mostly in Jeollado nowadays I’ve heard ..

    • ama

      There is loads of countryside that look similar to one or two of those pictures. Just a train trip and minutes outside the
      city centers.

  • Jy

    The boats with the old school sails surprised me the most! Very awesome photos, cool to know my parents lived in a place like this in their youth.

  • chucky3176

    Love the color in them. It makes them really come alive and even make it imaginable what it would have looked like. You know what, as poor as Koreans were, I bet half my dollar that Koreans were probably much happier during those days, than today. Today, Koreans despite having everything, have so little. Everything is about competition and having more and more of everything. Back in those days, the infant mortality rate was close to 20%.

    • Kate

      Agreed its very beautiful. I loved getting out of Seoul the few times I did, it was beautiful in the countryside. Some pics I took when my korean family took me out.

    • dk2020

      Yeah, but Korea was in poverty, heavily involved in the Vietnam war, and giving up babies for adoption in the 60’s. You would have to immigrate to the US for a better life like most did in that generation. Get real and don’t get stuck in nostalgia like the Japanese are today for the pre-WW2 era because its bullshit bro.. the grass ain’t greener on the other side .. if you really want to know what Korea would look like being closed off to the world just look at North korea and what their juche mentality has gotten them ..

      • Jang

        Koreans still immigrate and give birth in the U.S. for a better life, they also give up babies for adoption because Koreans certainly ain’t adopting their own pure-blood brother/sister babies.
        LA targets Korean ‘birth tourists’…
        “For certain privileged Korean moms-to-be, their baby’s first gifts aren’t toys, rattles or clothes. It’s U.S. citizenship. The first and most aggressive clampdown is set to begin in Los Angeles, the top delivery destination among pregnant Korean women. The crackdown target? Maternity hotels.“ The L.A. Times headline reads “L.A. to Crackdown on Birthing Hotels” Google it.

        • dk2020

          So? That’s not really shocking to me, I live in predominantly Asian American neighborhood outside of L.A. I actually notice way more rich preggo Chinese mothers giving birth in the US then going back to China with the baby because of US citizenship and one child policy in China. I don’t see that many Korean women doing this, just sending wife and kids to US to study while the dad still works in Korea. The US is going to implement tougher visa rules because of these Anchor mothers though ..

          • Jang

            How many Korean and Chinese mothers have you actually seen give birth in L.A.? It’s “not shocking” to you but “you haven’t seen,” sure thing dk.

          • Kate

            No he’s right about chinese women abusing the US citizenship system (although I don’t blame them, the usa allows itself to be abused) .

          • dk2020

            I notice pregnant fobs all the time at the market shopping, even my black friend was like where did all these pregnant Chinese ladies come from, they bought all the milk and pampers. They are usually in large packs like tourist groups so they are noticeable in public.

            I really don’t care it’s none of my business and they actually help the economy by spending money, if the kid comes back for school I doubt they will be living off welfare. There has been raids at local maternity houses usually run by Chinese. You’re a fob or an expat? How the hell do you know if you don’t live here? Yeah that explains the low birthrate in Korea .. smh.

          • Kate

            I saw that article too. My first initial reaction is that the usa should abadon “citizenship by birth” rights only if at least one parent is actually a citizen. They should also fine these women, stick them in a prison for 6-8 months, take their kid from them and that would put an end to this abuse. But then, I think well mexicans are given FREE citizenship as a reward for running the border and breaking laws anyway, our gov rewards criminals anyway. Then I think, with as violent and shitty the USA is becoming (bad edu system, mass unemployment especially for young generations, huge freakin debt, children afraid of being shot all the time (hell everyone is), a rich and poor gap that is just shameful and one of the worst in the oecd, jobs being exported, more violence, etc, I just think, Why would anyone want US citizenship? I actually am a US citizen and have a better future not in this country. This is not a good country anymore, its failing its youth.

          • Kate
          • dim mak

            Yeah, but if you even suggest such measures these days you’d get people calling you a xenophobe and racist. Makes me glad I’m not American.

          • Kate

            No do not get me wrong. I am very proud to be american, my family and home is absolutely wonderful, my town is beautiful full of great people and I will really, really miss them all when I leave. Americans are great, there are many, many great people who do great things, I am very proud to be american. My family is very american. I do think my country needs to find its way again, we aren’t doing great, but I still have hope that in the future my country will be where I retire. I love home even though it isn’t perfect.

          • moonboyroberts

            I agree with you. I’m not American but have American friends and have been there a couple of times. It is a great place and the people are nice, but I do believe, as I know do many Americans, that something is not right. An extreme form of capitalism is being practiced there that hurts the middle classes almost as much as the working classes, and any criticism of that is labelled ‘socialism’.

            I wonder at what point the middle classes will rebel. I thought the ‘Occupy Movement’ was the beginning of change but nothing really came of it.

            All western countries, to a greater of lesser extent have allowed politicians to be co-opted by finance and huge corporations.

            Lower salaries, jobs exported, tax evasion, nothing good has come of it since the advent of neo-liberal capitalism. However, I do think Americans have been hit particularly hard and I really wonder when the push-back will come. Pissing off the middle classes has been a dangerous thing to do historically.

            Your politicians sell the problem as loss of jobs to China. That is only a portion of the problem. Pay people a decent living salary and make corporations and rich people pay tax, and if they don’t, put them in prison for ten years. Of course, there is more to it, and I speak as an outsider not knowing all the elements of the problem; this is just my impression; but basically I think, at its most simplified, prosperity is not shared around in the US anymore like it used to be; to question this is to be called a ‘socialist’.

            I’m a capitalist but not when it turns into outright thievery and huge greed. But yeah, America will come out of this harsh period and be fine again. I think you’ll be able to retire there.

          • Kate

            Great reply and I agree with you, insightful!

          • actionjksn

            Socialism is bankrupting my country and the people who perpetuate it also perpetuate the myth that the rich people here pay nothing and the poor are just stuck footing the bill. Here is the real truth that the socialists here don’t want you to know.

            Taxes paid by highest incomes

            The top 1% pay 22.7% of taxes.

            The top 10% pay 50% of taxes.

            The top 20% pay 65.3% of taxes.

            The top 40% pay 84.3% of taxes.

            Taxes paid by lowest incomes

            The bottom 20% pay 1.1% of taxes.

            The bottom 40% pay 6.1% of taxes.
            That’s the real truth and I will tell you another truth that they don’t want you to know. First of all I used to be poor and lived in a poor, rough, High crime area with a high murder rate and all. I still keep in touch with some of my old friends and I go to them at their houses and I know how poor people here really live. Guess what, many of them have big screen televisions and cars. All of them have televisions and if they are not too lazy to go apply, they also get several hundred dollars per month in food stamps which now days is actually in the form of a debit card because so many of them would sell their food stamps for fifty cents on the dollar so they could buy alcohol and drugs. They also get a medical card for free healthcare.

            Unless they are super extra extra lazy, poor people here can live quite well in America. By the way most of them even have cable TV and many even have broadband internet to go with their laptop computers. And guess who is really paying for it? It’s those evil rich people, that’s who. And those evil rich people are getting up at 5 and 6 AM in the morning to go to work and pay for it while most of those poor people are sleeping in until noon or later and getting up eventually, like whenever they feel like it and then not even trying to do anything productive.

            And not only are poor Americans getting free food, medical and even housing and cash, but foreigners who sneak into my country illegally are also being encouraged to get the free tax payer handouts as well. And at the same time our government is borrowing money from China because they are spending so much that they could never confiscate enough from tax payers to pay for it. And people who have a problem with that are accused of being a racist. This is the real truth.

          • g

            The top 1% control 40% of the nations wealth and 70% of the income and these are 2007 figures so its probably much worse today. So shouldn’t they pay more of the taxes. You can’t tax those that don’t have it to tax.

          • actionjksn

            If you read my post, I never said that the rich people should not pay most of the country’s taxes. What I said was that they already do pay most of the taxes. The information on who pays what, is on public record, you can look it up on the official websites. The liberal politicians and the republicans both allow the very largest richest corporations to use tax loopholes to pay less and sometimes even pay nothing. The liberal progressives want to raise taxes on the middle class and call them rich people while letting the big corporations slide and use tax loopholes.

            When the republicans suggested that they close those loopholes, instead of just raising taxes, the democrats said no we will raise taxes instead. But really both party’s are equally corrupt and both cater to the large corporations. Which is why I vote 3rd party whenever possible.

            One more thing, they do NOT want to raise taxes so that they can pay down the debt and balance the budget. They want to raise taxes so that they can increase spending even higher. and keep running huge deficits. If they would cut spending and start paying off the debt, people would not mind paying a little more to save our country. But they have no desire to save the country from ruin, they just want even more money to squander. And the people who are paying the taxes here know it.

            When they talk about making the rich people pay more money, they are not talking about the big multi billion dollar corporations, they are talking about small businesses. The very richest pay to get them elected, so they will not bite the hand that feeds them. This is one area where the democrats and republicans agree with each other. A lot of 3rd party candidates would want to stop this, which is why the democrats and republicans both hate them and both work against them. They work together to make rules to put 3rd party candidates at a disadvantage. And the mainstream media also help them to keep 3rd party’s out.

          • dk2020

            So are you headed to the land down under Kate?? I still think the US has more opportunities than anywhere else ..

          • Kate

            Hey! We are heading to Korea in March, we just got my daughter’s passport to go! After we get to Korea, my husband will be leaving for Australia in April and me and Emma are staying behind. I have been studying Korean and plan on taking korean language school over the summer :)! By fall, I will be in Australia :) If you come to Korea, let me know, we will go hang out and do soju beer shots :)


            my fb, you’re more then welcome to add me.

          • actionjksn

            If you get a chance, go to Jeju island. It’s a very beautiful place. There is also a Korean war museum in Seoul that has a lot of really cool old planes and tanks, and other things. The tours of the DMZ are also very interesting and surprisingly the North Korean beer is better than the South Korean stuff.

          • Rational

            Yeah great idea, find the millions of illegal immigrant working for next to nothing, doing manual labor that Americans don’t want to do, and take away their kid, hurt the economy and ruin the lives of millions of children at the same time!

    • Josh Lee

      I’ve been to Anhui province, China and also several southeast asian countries. Trust me, third-worlders secretly being happier than those living in rich countries is a myth invented by first-worlders who can’t succeed despite their advantages.

      • Hongwu at Joseon

        I don’t think so, maybe the rich people there [on those 1st world countries, like you said] are starting to get bored, so much weakness modernity life brings, this is the result.

        Those photos were nice, but the true beauty of Korea was waaay back then, on the Koguryo,Koryo,Joseon,etc

    • Hongwu on Joseon

      Korea suffered a lot [both] because of that sickly leech called Japanese occupation, and later the War and division on 2 halfs =[

      Korea needs back a king!! not that technology shit

      • dk2020

        says the old ajeoshi stuck in the past, were u alive during the occupation? .. you can always move to north korea .. kim jong un acts like a king and they have no technology .. but they did launch a satilite into space before south korea did ..

      • AnthonyLudovici

        The Late Joseon period was worse than the Japanese colonial administration.

        A Yangban could go up to a peasant who had a particularly good harvest, demand an advance on a loan, and then have him thrown in jail if he refused.

        Unlike the Samurai, the Yangbans despised physical labor.

        Also, the best off Koreans in that period were the ones who lived under Russian rule, seriously. Czarist police treated them better than the Joseon authorities did, and that’s where Koreans had most prosperity.

        • kittyksin

          excuse me im pretty sure that “hongwu on joseon” was talking about the japanese occupation of korea, not the japanese colonial administration. and yes during the late joseon period, a yangban could do whatever they wanted but that is the same with any of the aristocracy around the world because they had money and power. you also cant compare samurais’ with yangbans. yangbans were scholarly nobles but samurais were a warrior class that became military nobles. and they didnt participate in physical labor, they fought but they didnt do physical labor as in working farms, they were still considered nobles. ill also like to know where you found information about koreans being better off under russian rule because ive never heard of russia ruling koreans. they wanted control but lost the russo-japanese war but that happened after the end of the joseon dynasty

  • Yu Bum Suk

    You can still find similar sites around my hicktown and rural county today – there are just a lot more old folks. But what I wouldn’t give to have a time machine and travel back to the 60s in Korea.

  • dk2020

    Ike was one of my favorite American presidents, he was honest and straight forward, he warned about the military industrial complex too ..

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • hun

    Looks kind of like a mix with Japanese/Vietnamese pasts.

  • Paul M

    Haha, the mountains kind of look ‘naked’ without the trees. It’s also quite sad to see that the towns and cities back then which had character and style have all been replaced by faceless concrete and steel cuboids people call apartments.

    • chucky3176

      You’re insane. I’ve done extensive study of the old modern Korea, and back then, many people in the country sides were living in straw roofed mud huts with no running water and no electricity. Hunger was widespread, and diseases were common.

      Electrification and tap water became widely available only in the 1970’s. Schools had on the average, over 100 kids to a class room per teacher. Unthinkable today.

      The birth rate was so high, the Korean government had to run a public campaigns to urge married couples to give birth to only 2 kids per family. The slogan went something like this “Let’s give birth to two only”. Up to the 1960’s, average Korean family gave birth to seven kids.

      Economically, Korea didn’t start taking off until the mid 1960’s during the Vietnam War, with so many American aid and American contracts flooding into Korea, in exchange for Korean troops sent to Vietnam. A total of 350,000 South Korean men ended up serving in Vietnam War, from 1964 to 1973. In exchange, South Korea ended up with $7 billion of American aid for that period which was a huge amount of money in today’s dollars. Fortunately, Korea used the money wisely to develop.

      The mountains of Korea were barren back in those days, as they were stripped of trees at that time. Koreans had over cut the trees to use as firewood over the century, as well as over-logging stripped off the mountains. Much of the green trees were planted from 1970’s and on. The annual arbor day in Korea was a huge symbolic public event where the Korean public voluntarily planted trees. The program was a huge success, as Korea was hugely successful restoring much of the barren mountains back to health.

      • Genxi

        It warms my heart to know that the Koreans took full advantage of what had offered to them for the sake of a better future. I truly do not understand how some countries are still stuck in poverty with yearly aids from the U.S.

        • meo fio

          US aids are actually loans with interest.
          You think US is giving away free money? No, its making money from all the foreign aids.

          • chucky3176

            Korea stopped receiving US aid in the 1970’s, with Jimmy Carter’s administration. The aids were a mixture of military aid plus financial. Of course, US’s interest was keeping countries falling to Communism.

      • Paul M

        And you’re hypersensitive reading too much into other people’s comments and jumping to all the wrong conclusions yet again. Did I say “Let’s go back to the days when we shat into buckets and had rampant outbreaks of cholera”? What’s wrong with keeping traditional aesthetics but with modern conveniences? Ever heard of restoration and renovation? In my neighbourhood I’ve seen too many beautiful houses demolished to make way for rectangular villa style apartments.

        I happen to know what arbour day was and why it was celebrated in Korea and I was living in Korea when it was still a public holiday. I was not complaining about the mountains merely stating that they looked ‘naked’. You are really too far highly strung for your own good.

        • chucky3176

          For Korea, the past was shit. Who wants to remember the grinding poverty, the shitting in the holes, and the misery? That’s why the Old becomes equated with Primitiveness. I’m not advocating erasing historic buildings. What I’m saying is I perfectly understand why this is happening. Korea’s root problem today is over materialism. It is the root of all the problems born out of trauma of poverty.

          • Alex _

            It was because of US that your shitty country even managed to develop, don’t forget that.

          • Pandabearnanke

            Whats your problem? You posted a nasty reply to a benign comment.

          • Pandabearnanke

            Millions of Koreans died from American bombs, more than dropped on Nazi Germany in WWII. Honestly I’m not one of those leftist ****heads but its the truth. So excuse me for being a bit ambivalent despite the good the US has done in S.Korea. SK recovered and became a decent country and is proabably the only good example of US intervention unlike Iraq, Vietnam, etc, etc. So don’t forget THAT jerk.

          • Alex _

            US did not killed South Koreans, only communists from North.

      • G

        I served there in the early 70’s and it was a very poor country at that time with not a lot of indoor plumbing and very few cars. We went back in 2000 and what a change. Most people have a car and a cell phone along with indoor plumbing and modern appliances. From what I could tell they still have closed markets to U.S. made goods though and this is how they became a rich country while the U.S. is fast becoming a 3rd world country. Wake up people.

  • Dan Levitan

    The picture under the one of the farmer and the mill is of one of the market streets down by Pungnammun in Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do.

  • Header

    Huh comment sections around the world bring out the troll and morons. kekeke- shut up!

  • YourSupremeCommander

    I like the “Chosun” Hotel.

  • oshkoshblogjosh

    wow. great post!

  • wow korea looks great before !

  • some of the places and scenes have not changed that much lol…i lived in sillyewon and the pictures of the women washing in the river in yongsan are nearly identical to what the view was from my windows….the farmers markets in yesan were similar to the photos too…very nostalgic…memory beauty…

  • neek

    Crazy how little the rural areas have changed.

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  • Erick

    This is what I love about Asia. They literally rise from the ashes.

  • gumiho

    That photo of the kids around the Jeep reminds me of something my wife said-One day in her little village, here comes a Jeep, and President Park Chung Hee is in it! He waves at her, but she gets so flustered she just turned around,too embarrassed to look at him.

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  • LuxeLife

    oh my gawd. so much shade in the translated comments
    im half lmao and half like damn..!
    beautiful pictures btw and amazing at how far korea has come in what 40 years?

  • kpopfanatic93

    Damn Korea has uplifted its economy in such short time, its amazing. O.O
    The rural areas are freaking beautiful though~ wow the scenery is breathtaking. But the amount shade in the translated comments, Ilbe members are such scum they can’t even appreciate their own country, when a foreigner like me who has never been to Korea can. What a shame.

  • Guy Forget

    Even though those days Korea was poor, it reminds me of the good things about Korea back then: hard working people, honest, humble, modest and now Korea is a bit drunk on hedonistic materialistic lifestyles full of shallow superficial people who dont want to work hard anymore but only do plastic surgery and make sure their face looks proper…. yeah these are signs of the end times for korea…it won’t be long until this age of korea will be gone unless they wake up from their addiction and start working hard again.

  • KKKorean1PPPeninsula1

    South Korea has changed… Those pictures reminds me Yanbian.

  • blairwalshmyballs

    fuck korean internet dwellers are making the american ones look tolerable

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